search

Free Things to Do in Lisbon

No Charge! Free Things to do in Lisbon.


There are plenty of free things to do in Lisbon. Visitors can explore some of the city’s best churches, museums and gardens while not parting with a cent – ideal for those wishing to save money or traveling on a budget. There's no charge to explore the opulent and exuberant interior of one of the city's most visited churches, Igreja de São Roque, located in Chiado. Its lavish decoration will wow and impress. In Lisbon during the summer? Take the train and head over to Praia do Carcavelos, a large sandy beach on the Lisbon Coast just 20 minutes out of the city center. Even in winter the beach makes for a lovely walk. And speaking of walks, the more active visitor can escape the chaos and clamour of the city centre by making tracks along the Green Corridor of Lisbon and ending up in Monsanto Park. Hiking trails and cycling tracks crisscross this verdant forest known as Lisbon's "lung." Meanwhile, another church worth exploring is the unique Igreja de São Domingos, which endured two earthquakes and a fire but is still standing. If you feel like chilling out, nip over to the verdant Jardim da Estrela, a beautiful little park where you can stroll or picnic in landscaped grounds. Looking for an Instagram moment? Lisbon is punctuated with miradouros, purpose-built viewpoints that afford fabulous panoramas across the city that cost nothing visit. A rewarding way to spend a morning is at the Feira da Ladra, the "Thieves' Market" where it's possible to bag a bargain as you meander freely through the city's largest flea market. On the western edge of the capital is the interesting Cemitério dos Prazeres, a large cemetery noted for its monumental tombs and baroque mausoleums. Free guided tours are conducted on a daily basis. Further afield west outside the city near Oeiras is the appealing Parque dos Poetas. This is a wonderful park to explore and unwind in after shopping at the nearby Oeiras Parque mall.


Advertisement

10
Outside the City


An imaginatively conceived green space themed around Portugal's greatest literary figures and those of the Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) world, the "Poets' Park" combines carefully landscaped grounds with works of art from some of the country's leading sculptors. The attractive park features a series of gardens dedicated to a particular wordsmith. Those to look out for include areas highlighting Renaissance poets Gil Vicente (1465–1537) and Lu–s de Cam–es (1524–1580), and 20th-century greats Miguel Torga (1907–1995) and Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). A lake, maze and children's playground offer pleasing distractions. At twilight, the park is wonderfully illuminated.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The park pays aesthetic homage to the country's most respected poets. The integrated amphitheater hosts music concerts.

Paul's expert tip: The park is located in Oeiras, west of the city center. It's very near the Oeiras Parque shopping mall. From there it's a 5-minute walk.

Read more about Parque dos Poetas →




The partially excavated ruins of Lisbon's Roman amphitheatre require some imagination to envisage how this 5,000-seat arena must have once looked, but it's still nevertheless worth a detour. Laid out in Alfama near the castle, the amphitheater is the only example of its kind in Portugal. Its foundations date back to the the time of Emperor Augustus in 10 BCE. The arena was expanded in 57 CE as the prestige of Lisbon as an important trading port grew throughout the Roman Empire. To be honest there's not much to see on site. Artifacts of value unearthed in situ are displayed in the neighbouring Museum do Teatro Romano, items that include a tablet with an inscription dedicated to Emperor Nero, and a statue of Silenus, the old rustic Greek god of wine-making and drunkenness and companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This is the only vestige of a Roman amphitheatre in Portugal and serves as a reminder of a unique period in Lisbon's long and illustrious history.

Paul's expert tip: While the museum is a paid-for attraction, visitors to the free to enter theatre ruins are able to admire a series of excavated foundations set within the museum from an exterior gallery above.

Read more about Museu do Teatro Romano →




The Prazeres Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Lisbon, and one of the most notable in Portugal. Located in the west of the city on the fringes of the leafy Campo de Ourique neighborhood, Prazeres, which – somewhat incongruously – translates in English as "pleasures", was created in 1833 to cope with the high mortality rate following an outbreak of cholera. While not in the league of Paris's P–re Lachaise Cemetery in terms of celebrity status, Prazeres remains the final resting place of some of the country's most prominent citizens, a roll call that includes authors, artists and politicians. For the most part, however, the cemetery is the permanent residence of the departed rich and distinguished, a fact illustrated by the grand and elaborate baroque family mausoleums that are an appealing feature of this unlikely visitor attraction.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Conveniently reached using the number 28 tram, Cemit–rio dos Prazeres also provides beautiful views of the Rio Tejo.

Paul's expert tip: A complimentary map of the cemetery is available from the front gate office. In addition, free guided tours (usually in Portuguese) can be pre-booked via telephone or email.

Read more about Cemit–rio dos Prazeres →


Advertisement


Animated and noisy, Feira da Ladra is the city's largest and liveliest flea market. Its name translates to English as the "Thieves' Market", a nod to the long-running joke that if you're robbed in Lisbon one day chances are you'll find your property on sale here the next. In fact, the moniker stands for the astonishing array of curios and bric-a-brac that can be found among the many stalls spread over Campo de Santa Clara near Alfama district. Here you can find hand-painted lacquered tiles, theatre programmes, coins, old postcards, militaria, His Master's Voice gramophones, carpenter's planes, terracotta wine jars, cast-iron door knockers and probably even a kitchen sink, among other knick-knacks. A seasoned eye might pick out a valuable antique or an interesting collectible amongst the tat, and if you're prepared to haggle you could take home a bargain. The tourism office at Lisboa Story Centre can provide more information about this visitor attraction.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Open to everyone, Feira da Ladra is a quirky and memorable experience where you can spend next to nothing on something.

Paul's expert tip: For the chance of bagging a rarity, arrive early on the day, either Tuesday or Saturday.

Read more about Feira da Ladra →




Lisbon's hilly disposition affords some fabulous panoramas across the city's downtown and historic districts. Indeed, the Portuguese capital unveils itself over several hills and all of them have at least one miradouro, a purpose-built terrace sometimes incorporated into a landscaped garden and usually served by a kiosk caf–. These public spaces are strategically located to offer superb views of Lisbon that take in national monuments and other buildings of note, and very often the River Tejo and the south bank beyond. One of the most celebrated viewpoints is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, which looms over Alfama, the city's oldest neighborhood. Another fantastic spot is the Miradouro de S–o Pedro de Alc–ntara overlooking the Baixa. The tourism office at the Lisboa Story Centre can provide more information about these unique vantage points.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Outstanding cultural and architectural features and very much part of the Lisbon experience, miradouros provide picture postcard opportunities.

Paul's expert tip: On clear days note the direction of the sun and time your visits so that your perspective is highlighted by a beautifully warm backlit sunlit wash.

Read more about Miradouros (viewpoints) →


5
Lapa/Estrela


Lush and verdant, the Estrela Garden remains one of the prettiest of Lisbon's public green spaces. Attractive at any time of year, this diminutive landscaped park is at its most colorful and vibrant during spring and summer. Adding to its allure is a water feature teeming with ducks and geese. A waterfront cafe overlooks the idyllic scene. The garden is a popular meeting point for residents, especially at weekends when an arts and crafts fair unfolds through the grounds. The well-maintained lawns make perfect picnic sites while the adjacent adventure playground keeps smiling youngsters occupied. A refurbished 19th-century wrought-iron bandstand is still used today as an ad-hoc concert stage, and there's even an occasional open-air library for bookworms to browse. For more information about the park, call the number of the central Lisbon Story Centre offices.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Cherished by locals, this verdant oasis is laid out opposite the beautiful 18th-century Bas–lica da Estrela, one of the city's most historic landmarks.

Paul's expert tip: The number 28 tram pulls up right outside the park's front gates.

Read more about Jardim da Estrela →




With foundations dating back to 1241, Igreja de São Domingos is one of Lisbon's oldest churches. But what is truly remarkable about this ancient structure is that it is still standing. Once one of the most impressive religious sites in the city, São Domingos was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1531. Rebuilt to a degree, the great earthquake of 1755 all but finished if off. The church was resurrected in the 19th century but once gain suffered calamity when a fire swept through the interior in 1959. The damage was such that São Domingos was slated for demolition. However, architects and engineers decided to repair the roof and facade, but left for posterity the scarred and blackened interior, the result of extensive fire damage. It's the soot-lined walls and columns that make this free to enter church such a remarkable landmark.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This free to enter visitor attraction stands as one of Lisbon's more unusual landmarks in that it has survived centuries of mishap and calamity.

Paul's expert tip: Look out for the sacristy, which survived the 1755 earthquake and the fire in 1959 and is the most complete part of the original building.

Read more about Igreja de S–o Domingos →


3


The city's most outstanding walking circuit, Green Corridor of Lisbon is the collective term for a series of pedestrian forest trails and cycling paths that weave and meander through Parque Florestal de Monsanto, or Monsanto Park, the largest green space in Lisbon. The park, located northeast of the city centre and set on hilly, wooded terrain, is popular with walkers, runners, and cyclists. It's also great family group territory! The waysigned paths pass several recreational facilities, including children's adventure playgrounds and picnic areas. A specialist trail, Circuito de Manutenção, or fitness trail, features basic outdoor gym equipment set along the route. Another trail, Caminho do Aqueduto Das Águes Livres, follows the path of Lisbon's ancient aqueduct. The Monsanto Interpretation Centre has more information about the range of facilities and activities available in the park

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: By following the Green Corridor of Lisbon visitors are provided with a relaxing walk through bucolic surroundings.

Paul's expert tip: The park can be reached by picking up the footpath at the top of Parque Eduardo VII. Look for the red pavement, which crosses a bridge near Eleven restaurant.

Read more about Green Corridor of Lisbon →


2
Outside the City


One of Portugal's finest beaches, Praia de Carcavelos is set conveniently near Lisbon, which makes it a fantastic summertime destination when the city gets too hot and stuffy. But even in winter this golden stretch of sand, just a 20-minute train journey from the city center, is a great place to chill out and spend your free time. Awarded a Blue Flag for water quality and classified as an Accessible Beach for those with mobility issues, Carcavelos is a favorite with surfers and body boarders: national and international surfing competitions are held here throughout the year. Lifeguards supervise the beach during the summer season (1 May–-30 September) when it can get uncomfortably crowded. Lining the esplanade are plenty of cafes and restaurants and if you're not a beachgoer or sun-worshipper by nature, the lengthy promenade walk is reason enough to flip-flop away half a day or so.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: A fabulous natural asset and conveniently close to Lisbon, Praia de Carcavelos is worth visiting at any time of the year.

Paul's expert tip: Cais do Sodré railway station serves Carcavelos. There's a also a tourist information booth located in the station.

Read more about Praia de Carcavelos →


1
Bairro Alto/Principe Real


The non-descript facade of this church belies a dazzling interior. Founded towards the end of the 16th century by the Jesuit Order, the riot of carved, gilded and painted woodwork is extraordinary, as is the marble sculpture and Florentine azulejos (tiles) that embellish the design. But it is one particular chapel that steals the show –" the 18th-century Capela de S–o Jo–o Baptista. Constructed in Rome by a craftsman who used amethyst, alabaster, lapis lazuli, gold, silver and precious marbles, the sanctuary is absolutely breath-taking in its intricacy: the mosaics depicting St John the Baptist's life remain as illuminating as the day they were set. The neighboring museum (entrance fee) exhibits a wealth of religious artifacts.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: A Lisbon visitor attraction that really is a hidden gem. The museum next door complements the interior but there is an admission charge.

Paul's expert tip: Look out for the scenes of the Apocalypse painted on the church ceiling.

Read more about Igreja de S–o Roque →


Map

Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul

×